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PersonalFullname: Glenn Loovens
Born: 22 Oct 1983
Birthplace: Doetinchem, Holland
Signed: 16th August 2008, undisclosed fee from Cardiff City
Left: 16 July 2012 (to Real Zaraogoza, free)
Debut: Celtic 3 - 0 Falkirk, SPL, 23rd August 2008
Position: Defender, Central Defender
Squad No.: 22
International Caps: 2
International Goals: 0
BiogDutch defender Glenn Loovens became Celtic's fourth signing of summer 2008 when he arrived at Parkhead for an undisclosed fee from Cardiff City on August 16th.
A centre-half, Loovens began his professional football career at Feyenoord. He made his debut for the Rotterdam club in season 2001-02 season but after failing to hold down a regular starting spot was later loaned to Excelsior and De Graafschap. A Dutch Under 21 international, Loovens joined Championship no marks Cardiff on a season long loan (2005-2006).
The defender quickly became a fans favourite and a key player for the Bluebirds and in the summer of 2006 he agreed a £180,000 permanent switch to ramshackle Ninian Park. Loovens was a stand out in the Cardiff side which shocked English football by making it to the 2008 FA Cup final. The Dutchman played in every tie - including the final - and impressed with his consistant and solid performances in the heart of defence.
By the summer of 2008 ambitious Loovens realised his chances of a full international call-up were limited while he remained in the relative backwaters of the English Championship. Rangers were exceptionally eager to land the Dutchman but Celtic then made a surprise move for the defender who they snapped up from under the noses of the Huns.
Glenn Loovens arrived at Celtic in the unending search for a quality centre-half. Caldwell, McManus amongst many others were getting too much flak and criticism and Loovens was seen as a serious player for the position. Supposedly taking him from under the noses of the Huns helps, but likely that has been overplayed.
In his first season at the club the big defender was given little opportunity by Hoops boss Gordon Strachan to dislodge the McManus/Caldwell partnership at the heart of the Hoops. When he did step in - usually due to injury - Loovens produced some solid if not spectacular performances but was rewarded with a League Cup winners medal after a fine performance against Rangers in place of the absent McManus.
However it was still a good first season, scoring four goals including the winner against Inv Caley in only his fifth game which made him popular. Problem is that (not his fault) he was brought in by Strachan at a time when Strachan was becoming unpopular and the team had taken a turn for the worse. So in some ways, Loovens was possibly identified unfairly with Strachan's dull style of play rather than on his own performances.
With the arrival of Tony Mowbray as the new Celtic manager in the summer of 2009 Loovens finally got the chance to push for a starting berth. With McManus out injured the Dutchman produced some fine early season displays and his good form was rewarded on September 5th when he picked up his first full international cap in a 3-1 friendly victory over Japan. He established himself as a first team starter under Mowbray, and continued this though the season, even after the departure of Mowbray.
As a player he was a strong forthright defender, good in the air and willing to put in a strong tackle, there was much to like. Pace though was an issue although he was far from being immobile. Always giving his best, he was admirable.
Injuries were Looven's big problem. A good spell would often be matched by an even lengthier spell on the sidelines. Frustrating as hell for all, but he couldn't shake off the injuries jinx. They punctured his entire spell at Celtic.
After Mowbray's departure, Loovens continued as an established first team starter in the early days of Neil Lennon's tenure as manager. However his form and confidence dipped in the autumn of 2010 and he lost his place to Thomas Rogne. Overall, in seasons 2010/11 & 2011/12 under Lennon he ended up making a fraction of the appearances he deserved to. Injury, team chopping & changing and new transfers all were the main reasons. He was though much criticised by some sections of the support who argued that he could be quite languid in his efforts (nonsense!) and could be poor in judgement, which didn't help. Although, scoring an own goal v Rangers which let them back into a match to equalise and then to go on to win the game didn't help his case.
Celtic couldn't in any case manage a settled defence so no consistency hampered everyone, let alone just Loovens. He was being marked down for reasons beyond his control. A steady run with a more able partner in defence could have paid off hugely in dividends. He was one of the more dependable central defenders in a long list of much maligned defenders during his years at Celtic.
There were some good points in his last seasons. He did score the winning goal v Hibs in Sep 2010 which was a welcome 3 points in the race for the title, and was his highlight that season, and performances from him were generally more than adequate if never outstanding. He definitely loved scoring and was very expressive when he got the goals, shows he appreciated his time at the club.
He also grabbed a goal in the 6-0 tanking of Kilmarnock which saw us win the title for the first time for 4 years in 2011/12, and was a nice touch for him. He deserved the moment of glory and finally being able to pick up a deserved league title medal (so he had one of each senior trophy domestic trophy medals). He also gave a good account of himself in the 3-0 win over Rangers (oldco) (the last match ever against them).
Overall, despite being overly maligned by some sections of the support, the actual truth is that Loovens was a far better player than some would ever give him credit for. Lack of stability in the defensive set-up (the number of permutations in his time was ridiculous), general goalkeeping problems (e.g. Zaluska or a lazy Boruc) and defensive coaching problems combined to make life difficult for Loovens. Still he kept on and never a bad word. A good professional in that sense even when dropped. The move of Mulgrew to centre-half though kind of showed up the other central defenders in the squad, although Loovens had outlived most of the others so he must have been doing something right. He wasn't as clumsy as some of his peers (e.g. Kelvin Wilson in his first season) and was never sent off. He also chipped in with some goals which we can all respect.
His contract wasn't renewed at Celtic after the end of season 2011/2012, and becoming a free agent allowed him to sign up for Real Zaragoza. Taking in that La Liga was the pre-eminent league in the world it was to be interesting to see how he would cope. The change and new challenge a good thing for him.
Sadly for him, his worth was not noticed more after his move away as the squad hit a purple patch in the next season, and amazingly some out of form defensive players started to find their feet again. Ironically, Rogne who was marked as Loovens natural successor was to be as prone to injuries as much as Loovens was, so replacing like with like?
We hope him the best.
|APPEARANCES||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Honours with Celtic:Scottish Premier League:
|24-May-09||Celtic 0-0 Hearts||SPL|
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